Ronnie Ford, motocross
Three broken legs, a torn knee, two broken arms, a cracked collarbone and three shattered ribs. Oh, was there mention of the two titanium rods in his shins?
Even all the pain isn't enough to stop the intensity of motocross for 29-year-old Ronnie Ford of Jackson.
"This is just an incredible sport," said Ford, who's been involved in it for 24 years. "I keep going because it's always been a goal of mine to do it and become a pro at it all my life."
It has to be an incredible sport to bear all the pain Ford has suffered and to still stick with it.
The pain and suffering has certainly paid off for Ford, who fulfilled his dream when he turned professional in 1995.
"All the broken bones have set me back a phenomenal amount," Ford said. "But it's just been about working hard at it and coming back from injuries that have got me where I am."
It hasn't taken Ford long to rise to the top of his sport. He started riding when he was 5, competing when he was 21 and has hardly slowed down. The leaps have gotten bigger and the speeds faster, but Ford has had no problem adjusting to the demands.
He started in 1993 in the C-Class, quickly jumped to B-Class in 1994, and was riding professionally a year later.
"If I can get some luck and not get injured, I think I can progress pretty quickly," he said.
He has received the privilege to compete in some main events and show his stuff in the night shows at some national races.
Growing up in Jackson and attending high school there, Ford liked to ride with buddies when he got the chance. He now trains at the new Benton track whenever he gets the chance, usually two or three days a week in the summer.
"Winter training is tougher because the weather has to be right," he said.
His full time job at World of Honda-Yamaha also takes up some of his spare time. Ford recently picked up another big job. His wife, Shelly, gave birth to a baby girl, Emma, in December.
Working at World of Honda-Yamaha is also a family affair. It provides Ford an opportunity to work with his dad, Robert, someone who at the early ages of his son's life was skeptical about his son competing.
"I think he was a little worried about me getting hurt," Ford said.
While the fears have been realized, his dad has been supportive.
"Since then he has really helped me out, though," he said.
Ford hopes to get better opportunities to do what he loves with the help of some additional sponsors. Sponsors such as Mossy Oak, Camoclad Camouflage Systems, World of Yamaha, Bowen Engineering, No Fear, Scott, Motul, M2R Helmets and Tag Metals have agreed to help support Ford in the upcoming year.
"Hopefully I can get some more sponsorship and if things get progressive enough we can go from there," he said.
Motocross isn't something that is easy to continue; Ford said taking the risk of suffering another injury every time you get on the bike is mentally challenging.
"It is very physically demanding; you have to be concentrated at all times," Ford said. "But it's a complete adrenaline rush -- an incredible sport."
-- David Unterreiner
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